Charlie Hunter Quintet - Right Now Move


Charlie Hunter - 8-string guitar
John Ellis - tenor saxophone
Gregoire Maret - chromatic harmonica
Curtis Fowlkes - trombone
Derek Phillips - drums


1. Mestre Tata 4:36
2. Oakland 6:09
3. Changui 3:45
4. Try 7:12
5. Whoop Ass 4:23
6. Interlude 1 0:54
7. Wade In The Water 5:02
8. 20th Century 5:45
9. Interlude 5 0:52
10. Winky 6:01
11. Freak Fest 4:39
12. Mali 6:57
13. Le Bateau Ivre 5:51

Produced By Scotty Hard & Charlie Hunter

Avoid noticing his agile mental multitasking skills. With his ability to think so quickly on several levels, it's no wonder that he invented the 8-string guitar: an instrument that allows him to simultaneously do the work of two mortal musicians. Charlie could be changin lanes while driving, planning a party for his neighbor, pacifying his newborn and kepping his 3-year-old son from dismantling every object within his reach - all the while, dropping thoughtful philosophical and anecdotal nuggets about his new album on ropeadope records, Right Now Move.

Perhaps conversely, however, Right Now Move is the result of some very focused artistry. After two days spent in the studio getting the right sound and coaxing glitchy equipment into proper behavior, the album was recorded entirely on the last day of a three-day session. Charlie's band, in top form from months of touring, simply ran down the tunes and nailed them. After a break for dinner, the quintet went back into the studio and put down the interludes. As a consequence, Right Now Move is a special kind of album: one full of the innovation and vibrancy that can only be caught on first takes.

For sure, the vitality of Right Now Move has a lot to do with the five musicians who play on it. Charlie's tandem in the rythm section is drummer and fellow Bay Area native Derek Philips, whose array of grooves and percussionistic colors ignite the band. In the unique horn lineup, trombonist Curtis Fowlkes anchors the section with sublime musicality. John Ellis, on tenor saxophone and bass clarinet, plays both instruments with gritty elegance. Darting and dancing on top of it all is the chromatic harmonica playing of Gregoire Maret. Charlie hand-picked these musicians because of their individual musical talents and the unique textures they are able to create against his own singular 8-string sound.

Right Now Move, his ninth recorded album, represents a new Milestone for Charlie. His journey started at the age of 12, when he bought his first guitar for $7. By age 16, after countless hours of practicing and some earliy tutelage under Berkely resident guitarist Joe Satriani, Charlie knew music whas what he would do with his life. While playing both guitar and bass in various Bay Area bands, Charlie developed a seven-string hybrid instrument on which he could play both parts at the same time. Later, in 1992, he designed a prototype of his current 8-string guitar.

The fact that charlie plays an instrument of his own invention is just one manifestation of his unique musical concept. Charlie's roots are in jazz music, drawing from modern jazz harmony and organ players like Jimmy Smith, Larry Young, and Big John Patton. However, Charlie voraciously listens to and studies music from withing the States and around the globe, including rock, funk, and soul, as well as the music of Cuba, Central and South America, and Africa. The inspiration that CHarlie takes from these styles is so subtly blended that the result can only be 100% pure Charlie Hunter. As Charlie says, "I'm really into coming up with and playing different kinds of grooves ... I try to distill all the music I love into something that sounds organic and natural."

Just one example of Charlie's expansive study is his pandeiro playing, featured on the interludes of this album and in an amazing segment of his recent live gigs. "I've been playing it for a couple of years now. Most people think it's just a tambourine. But the pandeiro, which is the national instrument of Brazil, is actually a little different. It has a tunable head and drier jingles, among other things. I got a lot of my chops from checking out the music of Marcus Suzano, who is an amazing pandeiro player from Brazil. I just with I had time to spend learning everything it can do."

More practice time or not, there's no question that Charlie has prodigious technical capability. Apart from his 8-string guitar and pandeiro playing, he was recently seen at the ropeadope New Music Seminar grabbing a regular bass and tearing through "Cissy Strut" and "Back in Black." Charlie also has a knack for unusual musical party tricks, like reciting entire raps from memory and performing a particular body percussion maneuver that's like patty-cake gone mad. "It comes from being a street musician," says Charlie. After several years of making a living playing for people in both the Bay Area and Europe, he says "The only way to get by is by being able to do everything. It has to be a show, like vaudeville." As far as the human percussion thing, Charlie deadpans, "Can't everyone do that?"

For all his virtuousity, Charlie doesn't set out to make music for the purpose of impressing other musicians. Nor does he try to manufacture music for the impressionable masses. "Part of my theory about music is that too much of today's popular music has become two-dimensional. The corporate middleman forces artists into making music that's 2D - it's flat. It used to be that A and R people would find pop artists like Diana Ross and Marvin Gaye, who might be attractive or beautiful, but they were also extremely talented and musical. Now, the corporate structure forces artists into an artifical mold design for mass consumption. And the product doesn't end up communicating very deeply to people. I want my music to be 3D, reflective of the reality we live in, something for real people to relate to who live in a real community. Real people have to get up and go to work in the morning. I want my music to speak to them and make their lives better as a result."

With his new release, Charlie is telling real life how to Right Now Move. "Curtis came up with the name," Charlie explains. "He has one of those tapes that circulates among musicians, you know, with things like a surreptitious recording of BUddy RIch berating his band, or Ray Charles' guitar player freaking out onstage. Another thing on there was a radio commercial done by this cult radio preacher from the south named Prophet Omega. It was a commercial for a moving company that would do any kind of move: a move coming up in a couple of weeks, a move that needed to happen by tomorrow, and even a 'Right Now Move.' We liked that particular phrase, which seemed to be applicable in all kinds of different contexts, so we named the album after it."

Mestra Tata When I was with my band in San Paolo, Brazil, we went to a music shop to look for pandeiros and other instruments. Like all music shops, this one had a bulletin board with things posted on it. There was an ad for someone named Mestre Tata (Mestre means "Master" in Portueguese) who taught Brazilian percussion instruments. The crazy hting was, the list of instruments that he taught was so long, it wouldn't fit on one piece of paper. So he had a second page attached with the rest of the instruments listed on it. We thought, "We have to check this guy out." So we asked the owner of the shop and he told us that Mestre Tata was right upstairs! So we went up to his studio and had an hour-long percussion lession with this 60 year-old percussion master. This song was inspired by that experience

Oakland I whipped this one up just before the recording session. When I brought it in, the guys looked it over, we hit record, and they nailed it. It's a tribute to the East Bay Area, where I grew up. We don't play this kind of slow, simple funk - I call it "dumb-dumb funk" - very often, because it's so hard to pull off. But Derrick knows how to play this stuff the right way, because he's from Oakland.

Changui Changui is a style of Cuban street music that I'm really into. The melody of this tune is reminiscent of something you would play on a stringed instrument from that idiom called the tres. The rest of the tune evolved from that into something different.

Try When I went out on the road with Fred Wesley and Mike Clark, they wanted to play "Doin' it to Death" a lot. From that came this song, my tribute to Fred Wesley.

Whoopass The name says it all. It's a high-octane Charlie groove, with wing feel on the cymbal and funk on the bass drum and snare. Musically it sounds a lot better than the description.

Interlude1 We recorded a bunch of these interludes. I just played some different grooves on the pandeiro and the horns came up with something spontaneous on top of each one. Those guys killed it. We did a lot of them too - there are a lot more that didn't make the record.

Wade in the Water I have all these old gospel recordings and when I heard this tune on one of them, I really liked it and wanted to do my own version of it. I think it came out pretty good.

20th Congress This tune started out as kind of a Robert Walter tribute and then it morphed into something else.

Winky I originally did this one as a vocal arrangement on Notes from the Underground. But after doing it as an instrumental with the three horns, I realized that this was the way it was supposed to be played all along.

Freak Fest When I played with Stephen Chopek and Chris Lovejoy, we used to play a groove that they called "Freak Fest." LaAter I made up a tune with that groove, and here I recorded it with the new band.

Mali This piece started out a tribute to the music of Mali - specifically, people like vocalist Oumou Sangare, and musician Neba Solo. But then, my jazz harmony concept reared its ugly head and changed this piece into an entirely different thing. It's really a vehicle for Greg.

Le Bateau Ivre The name of this song comes from the title of a poem by French Poet Arthur Rimbaud. I liked the sound of the title (which means "The Drunken Boat") and I thought this tune sounded like that: Just a goofy little tune that bobs along.